22 August 2007

From My Hands, She Takes Flight

I picked up Big A from gymnastics last night and was talking on the phone while she walked out of the building. I looked at her once, and it actually took a few seconds for it to register, "That's Big A".

My heart lurched and fluttered and then resumed it's usual rhythm, yet one more moment in my life where a sudden recognition of something that has clearly been in front of me all along startles me into today, now, this minute. Because I feel like most of the time, maybe, I'm living in yesteryear.

When I think, "Big A" , the image of her that appears in my mind's eye is one of her at age four or five, grinning, wide eyed, a tooth missing, blue eyes actually laughing. I can hear the laughter, the memory is so distinct. She is obviously not that person now. Instead she stands before me, all limbs and length and her smile is slower, more thoughtful; it isn't a gift that she gives freely and openly, it must be earned and deserved.

She doesn't possess the open and trusting heart that I'd hoped to give her, and I wonder if that fault is mine. I assure myself that no, she was always serious and quiet, and that the memory of that moment with her is actually an anomaly; which is perhaps why it is so dear to me, which is perhaps why I have chosen that memory as the one that sparks her image within me--to assuage my own guilt and worries about what it is that I am passing along to those that matter most to me.

I remember holding her hands as she grew, taking mental pictures of how they looked within my own. I remember each day, kissing her sweet baby rolls, then becoming frightened with the knowledge that so few remained. The first thing I would do in the morning when I awoke was to check the spot where her arm met her hand; it was the last fat that remained. I have countless pictures devoted to that spot, how it bunched up. I recall thinking that if I checked each day, it couldn't disappear, and yet, it did. The last physical remnant of the baby that was, one morning, no longer there. I spent that day crying periodically; akin to when you lose someone you love--when you try to remember their voice, their smell, their touch and then worry that, already, with them, those things are gone; were they ever once even real?


It's not only her that I do this with; in my mind's eye, my eldest nephew remains eight or nine, although he now drives a car, his siblings at least three years behind their actual ages, my thoughts always having to process why my sister is speaking of buying them school clothes and packing lunches because that's not where they have settled in the nooks of my memories.


My grandparents, although grandparents, remain at least a decade younger, my aunt, uncles, friends; all still existing in the planes of youth and pre-stretch marks and mortgages and husbands that don't come home.


But mostly, it's Big A that continues to remind me of time pressing forward and makes me face what simultaneously I dread and dream: that she will soon be soaring on her own, her visions of me perhaps skewed, her thoughts somewhere between a memory and mystery: did she hold me like that, did she kiss me there, did she always throw her head back when she laughed?


I just want to know, to be assured, to rest easy in the knowledge that as she's taking flight she has memorized within her heart the hands that that released her and is always confident that they were as such, and will always remain, exactly what she needs them to be.

28 comments:

JustMe said...

*Sniffle*. Life sucks. *Sniffle*. Growing old sucks. *Sniffle*. Watching OUR KIDS grow old sucks. *Sniffle*. Thanks for reminding me, yet again, the the roller coaster of life will keep on rolling, even if we're kicking/screaming/dragging our feet trying to get it to stop! XOXO

Christine said...

oh.

this line: "that's not where they have settled in the nooks of my memories." perfect.

lovely and sad and wonderful all at once.

Janet said...

beautiful, beautiful.

Hailey was my chubba chubb baby. Now her legs are long and lean, the rolls all gone. All that remains is a little pot belly that I fear will soon melt away too.

Her Grace said...

"...to rest easy in the knowledge that as she's taking flight she has memorized within her heart the hands that that released her and is always confident that they were as such, and will always remain, exactly what she needs them to be."

I think that's a wish we all have.

Joy, of course said...

Clara is a rolly polly baby and I have devoted rolls of film, and hours devoted to memorizing those rolls that will someday be no more. This post, so beautiful and so sad, and so true.

flutter said...

She is infinitely lucky to have you.

jen said...

she has, sister...she has.

of course she has. she's had you to show her.

Blog Antagonist said...

For me, it's almost as if the children they were and the almost grown ups that they are are two different people...and I guess...in a way...they are.

That was beautifully said.

Gill said...

This post definitely found an echo in my heart. My eldest daughter turns 18 in less than 4 months and is preparing to spread her wings..sob!

Aimee said...

Amen. I think this all the time when I look at Older Girl in a baseball cap and realize that she's a "big" kid, not a baby.

GAH!

MamaLee said...

What a beautiful post. You write about your daughter so sweetly.

Time surely flies.

"The days crawl and the years fly."

I'm watching my kids grow minute by minute as well. I surely hope I can capture all of these moments in my camera and in my heart. so I'll remember them all.

xoxo

Jen M. said...

It is so hard to unfreeze the mental image we have of our children (or other's children). You put this perfectly.

My best friend's daughter is nearly 17, and I still talk to her on the phone like she's eleven. because that is where I have her in my mind's eye.

deb said...

It is so strange to watch them grow and stretch and turn from our babies into people, strange and beautiful at the same time.

MP said...

:-)

For me it's my dad. He's 86 now but in my mind he's that strong man who could do anything. Now I have to help him in and out of the car..where does the time go?

Jess Riley said...

This was lovely...childhood is far too fleeting!

Amy York said...

Aww it's so tough isn't it? I am sure she will always remember those hands. Those same hands will hold hers when she gets her braces on for the first time... they'll clap for her when she performs in her first gymnastics comptetition (or other sporting event) and she'll hear them above all the other hands... they'll help teach her how to drive... they'll fix her hair for her first prom... and they'll help her with her makeup on her wedding day... they will grow and change as she does, into what she needs them to be. How could she ever forget them?

Christine said...

Beautiful.

Sometimes I am startled that my children are of the age where they will *remember* things. Part of me will always think of them as so babes just learning how to talk.

Mama Zen said...

Oh, this just killed me! Beautiful!

Lawyer Mama said...

Ah, yes. Sigh.

Beautiful post. Sometimes I'm torn between desparately wanting to see what happens next and wanting to stop time.

T with Honey said...

No matter how many times you tell 'em to stop growing they never listen.

luckyzmom said...

As soon as my heart stops the sobbing brought on by your heartwrenching words I'll come back and comment. You are wonderful and I love you.

Christy said...

Why, oh why do they have to grow up. My little one is only 2...no wait she will be 3 in a couple of months, and I wish I could just make time stop just for a moment.

Beautiful post.

Becc said...

A hug and a kiss, with a sigh, is all I can offer.

Beautiful.

Jonas said...

Your hands are a good launch pad. Big A will come to know that.

KC said...

I've never thought about this moment, haven't gotten to this moment, but the thought of this makes me nostalic and bittersweet and a little bit achy iside.

Ally said...

So, so true. And felt univerally by all of us Mamas here in blogland. Tonight I was reading a lift-the-flap book with Eleanor, all of 5 years old, and she informed me, "this flap used to scare me." It was the flap showing a bear about to eat a fish. I told her "yes, I remember... You used to pray every night that God would make the bears stop eating the fish." Oh, my little girl. Where did she go? Tonight she just laughed and laughed.

justabeachkat said...

Wow! Jenn, this was a beautifully written post...very touching.

Hugs!
Kat

S said...

I love Big A's seriousness...it is who she is without a doubt. When "you" earn one of her smiles you feel twice as blessed. But once you are "in" with her, you are in. I love Big A & I love it when she starts her sentences off with Umm S...it always is followed with something that usually leaves me speechless & wondering if she truly is only 9.